tv Inside Story Al Jazeera February 28, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EST
for a nasty ice storm in the next couple of days. back to you. >> thank you very much. thank you for watching aljazeera america. "inside story" is next. >> run your eyes over a map of the world, the u.s. state department said countries around the globe are threatening, oppressing, even killing their people. that's "inside story." >> hello, i'm ray suarez. every year the u.s. state department gathers intelligence
and news from around the world, and gathers it into a report on human rights in all their various forms. today the report was released and criticized friend and foe alike. the state department deplored the killing of civilians in conflict zones like syria, oppressive abuse on demonstrators like iciviliansli. we look at four of our jailed colleagues by the egyptian government. >> secretary of state john kerry introduced his department's annual human rights report with an urgent message globally 2013 was a ban for human. >> all right this report, we
think s especially timely. it comes on the holy spirit of one of the most momentous year years--it comes on the heels of one of the most momentous years. >> assembly and press. >> this could not be more relevant to what we're seeing trantranspired across the globe, some of the greatest security challenges in the world today are also places where their governments deny basic human. >> right the syrian government's use of chemical weapons on its own people. >> in syria hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator who decided to infect the air of damascus. >> kerry also pointed to new
details on the extent of north korea's abuses towards its citizens. >> reports of people who have been executed su summarily, and fired at by aircraft weapons that literally obliterate human beings, and this is occurred on people in the masses being forced to watch. >> there were some hopeful signs as well with nations moving towards democracy. >> in ukraine as we just saw in the realtime in the last days, tens of thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against the power of--to demonstrate again the power of people to be able to demand a more democratic and accountable governance, and to stand up even against those who would sniper from rooms and
take their lives in the effort to have their voices heard. so there are plenty of examples of places tha. >> we have to ask ourselves if we don't stand with these brave men and women, who do we stand for? if we don't speak for them, who do we speak for. >> this comes a frightening picture of struggles of those around the world seeking a better life. assistant secretary of state spoke at length of growing opposition to gay rights by governments like uganda's and russia's. >> lgbt are criminalized worldwide. even when these laws are not enforce their mere existence creates a climate of fear and
sends a message to the broader population that it's permissible to discriminate against lgbt people in housing, employment, and education. and it's permissible to be, kill or torture someone simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. in pakistan more than 80 worshipers were killed in a deadly church bombing and more than 400 shia from killed in targeted attacks throughout the year. the iranian government imprison high faith ministers and others for the simple act of practicing their faith. >> poor working conditions cake to the fore in 2013 after a bangladeshy factory collapsed and killed garment workers. >> we see migrant workers subject to abuse and denied
recourse and safe working conditions. >> rights of assembly, free speech and protest were curtailed in vietnam, venezuela and others. highlight in the report were egypt security forces responsible for what the state department called the most violent disruptions of protest in 2013. egypt's heavy handed tactics against dissent and active campaign against journalists were noted. four al jazeera journalists are on trial right now despite the ousting of th at the hands 69 military. >> i think the report getting back persistent concerns and deficits over the course of the year under the previous government and current government with respect to freedom of association, freedom of assembly, security force abuses, protection of religious
minorities. >> countries like china, turkey and saudi arabia were mentioned in the report for renewing restrictions of press freedoms. >> throughout the year many individuals were silenced as well. the saudi blog was sentenced to prison and 600 lashes for espousing liberal thought. >> much of the world live under authoritarian rule and many realities do not compliment international laws. in recent decades democratization and economic progress has i lifted hundreds of millions of people out of depression and depravation. the world is a better place than it's been for more people in more places than ever. but beatings, jailings, discriminations, overbearing state power and in some places state instability in others still threaten the lives of
many. we have with us director of freedom houses, freedom of the press index which evaluate the press freedom everywhere in the world. and advocacy director for middle east and north africa issues, and from new york, professor of business and society at new york university, he was the obama administration's assistant secretary of state for the bureau of democracy, human rights and labor from 2009 to 2013. and professor, if you had to make your own report, would it be consistent with what the state department found? what kind of year did you see it being for the world? >> i think the report they released today is excellent. lots of time and energy goes into it. i think the trends are right. what i would highlight is that in a number of countries you have a growing activism
especially by young people. and they're taking to the streets or taking to the blogs or trying to get their communique to the press, and governments are cracking down on them. i think the attack on civil society, on the press, on the media is one of the trends that they rightly highlighted in the state department report. >> sasanjev, did you see areas that they missed or you disagreed with their interpretation? >> the report over all is very robust and has a lot of important information in it. the state department is applauded to be including internet freedom which i, theree gaps. housing rights is not included, and very recently in cairo, hundreds of egyptians had been kicked out of their homes by the government.
this sort of pattern happens in many countries around the world. another example is the broader issue of how this report informs u.s. foreign policy. does the u.s. government change its policies with regard to its allies once it's criticized them in the report. in many places in the world it's become dangerous, complicated to be a reporter. was 2013 an especially bad year? >> well, i don't think it's especially bad, but i do think that it follows on the trends that we've seen the freedom house index. we've seen decline in the freedom of expression broadly. i think 2013 definitely followed on these trends. we saw the continuation of several problematic areas that we've seen including attacks on journalists, use of laws, regressive laws against the press, and this increased crackdown on online dissent as
well. >> do we need to broaden our definition now that so many people are content creators because they have a telephone in their pocket? >> yes, definitely. this is one of the counter intuitive things. how is that possible when so many people are helping to produce information, able to receive information over the internet, over mobile phones. but as these channels of communication have increased we've seen a crackdown on these forms of communication by governments. this is happening in very repressive settings and also in open democratic governments as well. there are positive trends in terms of access but negative trends in terms of crackdown. >> we have to take a short break, but when we come back we'll take a closer look at the "who said so" problem. is the united states in the right position to be looking across the world in naming and shaming? and does it any good?
welcome back to inside story. >> welcome back to inside story. i'm ray suarez on. edition of our program we're talking about the human rights report card released by the secretary of state today. this is not some high-minded exercise. this is about accountability. but sanjeev. naturally one country that is not reported on is the united states itself. does it undermine the united states own authority in this regard. >> at a technical level i don't think th they are allowed to doy
report because it's ministry of affairs. but surveillance, the nsa, the crackdown on edward snowden is another example when it comes to freedom at home and the ability of wrestl whistle blowers. and then broader economic issues, police brutality and the use of death penalty. these are human rights at home that deserve a spot life. >> if some other country took it upon itself to write such a report, would it be heard? >> i would say the more countries speaking out in the international context about human rights, the healthier it is, and it would force countries asking those questions to face the same spotlight at home. amnesty international would like more accountability for all governmenters that are players
when it comes to how it treats its citizens, including the united states. >> fair comment? >> one of the things--i very much agree that it's a healthy thing to have a look inward, and in fact the u.s. is reporting in geneva under one of our treaty obligation on the civil and political rights. we're also obligated to do something called the universal periodic review. i led that process in 2010, and we consulted with about 1,000 ngos around the country on a whole range of issues. we brought in 30 federal agencies to hear what american citizens were saying about our own human rights record. i think that's a healthy process. i think we need to lead by example but that's going on in a variety of ways that i think are being heard. not only by others but the federal agencies. >> many countries named in this report are friends and allies of
the united states. does getting named help anything? if press freedoms are being suppressed in a place like turkey, let's say, or a country that until recently had growing freedom and now back sliding, is the united states in position to point fingers in a way that makes more difference than somewhere else does? >> if it raises those concerns in a foreign government it's likely to be heard. but i agree, there are problems at home that make our voice have less impact. some of the issues in the united states over the past year over ref aggravations of surveillance, privatism in terms of the u.s. setting a good example. where i think some of the criticism of the u.s. having an impact in terms of whistle
blowers and prosecution of whistle plowers and journalist who is cover stories on national security leaks. there have been a number of such cases over the last few years and i think it's having an impact, and there may be a ren renewed push to protect sources at the federal level of the united states. i think that is a positive outcome and would be a reversal from recent trends where there have been negative attempts to prosecute whistle blowers in the u.s. this type of criticism from u.s. ngos can have an impact. >> are there governments that aspire to international respectability, that it may hurt to be in a report like this, while there are others who don't care. they'll fire on protesters. they'll bomb civilian areas of residents. they do whatever they want if they need to. >> yeah, it runs the gamut.
one of the things that i was responsible for producing these reports over the past four years, and one thing that was strike to go me was how closely the governments around the world, friends and foes pay attention to it. one government sent us back a 40 page response to the report, and they were by far the most criticized. lots of drama about how reports are handed to the government. governments are extremely sensitive to the light being shown on what they're doing. it doesn't mean everybody. there are some governments like the north koreans who seem impervious to any criticism, but lots of governments respond to this report. nobody stepped up to the plate and right now the united states is producing the most comprehensive report on human rights by anyone in the world. >> janjeev one of the things that contribute to that
response, whether or not you have an elected government? >> sometimes. elected governments are certainly as capability of human rights violations as non-elected governments. however, there is a core question also once the u.s. government publishes this report, what does it do with it? saudi arabia has gotten a lot of criticism in this report, but in march president obama is going to saudi arabia in march on a quote/unquote fence mending trip. and giving someone 600 lashes, will president obama say to the king of saudi arabia, this should not happen. our relationship will impacted by this. we will not stand on your side for whipping someone for
speaking out on human rights. >> when something like this comes out from state department is it a conversation when leaders meet? >> sometimes it is, and it always should be. my job and others in the state department are always putting the human rights points on the agenda for the president, the secretary, and other leaders. there are a range of places where we ought to be saying more. >> we're going to take another short break. when we come back we're going to focus on al jazeera's global day of action in support of our four colleagues still being detained in egypt. this is inside story.
>> here on america tonight, an opportunity for all of america to be heard. >> our shows explore the issues that shape our lives. >> new questions are raised about the american intervention. >> from unexpected viewpoints to live changing innovations, dollars and cents to powerful storytelling. >> we are at a tipping point in america's history! >> al jazeera america. there's more to it. welcome back to inside story. >> welcome back to inside story. i'm ray suarez. the state department issued it's 2014 human rights report. the u.s. singles out syria, russia, china and egypt for restrictive laws suppressing political opposition, minorities
and journalists. before we get a look at my jailed colleagues in egypt, sanjeev, you had one more comment on this report? >> the largest recipient of military aid israel is treated with kid gloves when it comes to the israeli occupation of the west bank. i think that's a place that the state department could do better in years ahead. >> the other recipient of major aid in the area is egypt. and right now al jazeera journalists are being held by the interim government there. what are these arrests, and the determination to go ahead with the trials tell you about the state of play for press freedom in egypt. >> well, this is a very important case. because we have known, and you know, egypt has very restrictive
laws that can be used against a person. they've had them for a number of years. but this is the first time we've seen journalists detained, and they're charged with anti-terrorism charges, and it's a very serious case. it signals the commit by the egypt authorities to press freedom is no, there is no commitment to press freedom, and egypt is back sliding in terms of freedom, and it's. back sliding from the fall of mubarak. >> these societies without press freedom, international correspondents are not usually jailed. >> no, we've seen them in different environments around the world. in china there has been a crackdown on foreign reporters, and even in russia in this past year. but open countries it's less common. this is a worrying signal by egypt.
they are going to go after foreign reporters. in this case it's one of the main areas to get out news and information. it's a particular concern to us. >> michael posener, what do you make of it? egypt has been a major recipient of american aid but no amount of jay carney today at the white house briefing talking about these reporters is going to make egypt simply say, okay, fellas, go and sin no more. >> yeah, i think egypt is a critically important country at a have dangerous moment right now. it's not just your four journalists among dozens that have been arrested and are being held. civil society, human rights activists, it's almost impossible to be critical of the government now even on things how they drafted the constitution without coming under the government's wrath. egypt is the most important country in the middle east. it's critical for the united
states, for europe and others to really pay more attention. egypt hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves in the last seven or eight months and it's at a critical juncture right now. we have to help create the space for more owner pluralistic debate on a range of issues. >> to my guests, thank you all for being with us today. >> thank you so much, ray. >> thank you. >> before we go we want to tell what you we here at al jazeera are calling a global day of action, a show of solidarity and support for four of our journalist who is are jailed in egypt. they have been detained since december. and a journalist has been held since august. >> they are allowed out of their cell only one hour a day.
they have been detained since december 29th. abdullah al shamy, the al jazeera arabic journalist has been held since august. he's been on a hunger strike protesting his detention. >> we understand that the defendants bleed not guilty and the trial was adjourned until march 5th. we strongly urge the government to allow these and all journalists to continue to do their jobs, and it is impossible to see how they can do that, how any journalists can do their job if they're faced with questionable charges and detained and on trial. >> reporter: al jazeera held events in 30 countries around the world. this is the scene at our headquarters in doha. entire news rooms stopped for a moment of silence. balloons bearing the #free a.j.
staff were released in trafalgar square in london. there was a demonstration outside of the egyptian embassy. journalists and friends of the media marched in nairobi, kenya, where our reporter was based. and there was a show of support from sydney, australia. in beirut protesters held up banners saying journalism is not a crime. you can follow developments on our story on website and across social media. the hashtag is free aj staff. this brings you to the end of this edition of "inside story." thank you for being with us. in washington, i'm ray suarez.